The Strange Evolution Of The Word “Dude”

Maybe two years ago, a strange word came out of my mouth: “dude.” I don’t know why it came to mind or what inspired me to use it exactly. But next thing I knew, the word was back in full force and, oh, pretty much everyone was saying it. So I was very excited to see a piece titled “History of the ‘Dude’” on a website called Good today. The piece charts the different uses of the word, and shows that it has gone through quite an evolution in the years. It started off in the 1800s being a word to describe a man who went slightly overboard with his penchant for fashion, kind of like the word “dandy.” Then in the American West, it took on the new connotation of a city dweller visiting a ranch. In the 1950s, “dude” became a term of address that marked familiarity—by that point, it could refer to a man or a woman. But in the 1960s, “dude” came to refer just to guys, and cool guys at that. The term reached its apex in the 1980s, when it became a vital part of every teen’s vocabulary. It also became to be an exclamation of excitement around then. And then the word largely disappeared, until “The Big Lebowski” brought it back. Its usage has only grown for there. Interestingly, today it seems that women are far more likely to use the word “dude.” Hence, why it appears in so many headlines on The Frisky. (Plus, Editor Amelia is from California, where it’s very popularly used.) Dude! I can hardly keep up. [Good]

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